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Forum dismisses plea for lack of jurisdiction

BY JATIN RAMAIYA

Edgar Joao Antonio Lourenco from Salcete had approached the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum at Margao complaining against the director and deputy director of Transport Department.As per the complaint, Lourenco had purchased a new Ford Fiesta Classic from Caculo Ford Pvt Ltd. According to him, he paid a sum of ` 70,851.00 as VAT  i.e. 12.5 per cent on the cost of the vehicle. When he went to register the vehicle at RTO, Margao, he found that the road tax is 9 per cent on the cost of the vehicle and 8 per cent if it is less than ` 6 lakh.

He paid ` 57,699 as road tax instead of ` 45,345. As such, according to him, he is entitled for a sum of ` 12,354 as refund with interest. Thereafter, he approached the assistant director and deputy director of transport to redress his grievance. However, he could not get a favourable reply. As per his contention, he is required to pay road tax on cost of the vehicle only and not on the sale value of the vehicle.

According to him, the sale value means the cost of the vehicle along with VAT.  Rroad tax has to be levied only on the cost of the vehicle and not on the sale value of the vehicle, and therefore, he prayed for refund of ` 12,354 which he had paid on and above the tax which he is not bound to pay. He also claimed for a sum of ` 2,00,000 as damages and a sum of ` 200 as cost of the complaint.

The director and deputy director of transport, filed their written statements alleging that the forum had no jurisdiction to decide the matter and the tax collected by them is as per the Government Motor Vehicle Tax (Amendment) Act 2013 and as such this forum cannot question the validity of any statute lawfully passed by the Legislative Body of the state.

Upon hearing the parties, the forum decided to deal with the issue of jurisdiction at the outset and held that, “The question as to whether the tax which has been collected by the opposite parties is legal or illegal cannot be decided by us. This forum has limited jurisdiction under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.  The tax is a levy which is without quid pro quo. Hence, relying on the decision of the Kerala State Consumer Redressal Commission reported in 2009(1) CPR 211, we find this forum has no jurisdiction to try and entertain the present complaint. The complainant has knocked the doors of the wrong forum. Accordingly, the complainant to present the complaint before proper forum.”

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